Google Hummingbird SEO Tutorial – A Deeper Look Into A Site That Performed Well

In my last post I described what I believe the history of Google’s Hummingbird was, the effects of it, examples of sites that were affected by it and a brief look at what you could do to optimize your content for it.

I’ve received some feedback on that post asking for more details about the exact SEO strategy I used for my example site that performed extremely well as a result of Google’s new algorithm.

But to be clear, I’m going to only go over the ‘Content Related SEO’ that I used when building my site. This post won’t be able building links or internal link structure.

So let’s dig in…

A Brief Review Of A Site That Performed Well In Hummingbird

Let’s look at the traffic chart again:

goodbird-trend

As you can see from the chart, the traffic to that site began to pick up starting September 13th, but by September 14th a new all time high had been established and kept climbing over the next few weeks.

To go back over the same information shared in my original Hummingbird post, here are some basic facts about the domain:

The domain in the chart has just over 50 pages indexed by Google and is receiving as many as 170 unique views per day as a result of the Hummingbird update.

  • Every page on the domain uses a question as it’s title and in the subheadings of each page.
  • The average document length is roughly 1300 words and as many as 3800 words.
  • The domain is only a few months old and established post-penguin 2.0
  • The only link building done has been a few comments on relevant blogs

Hopefully that gives you most of the basic facts you may need about the site.

But let’s dig in a little deeper yet…

How Keyword Research Was Conducted

I’ve been reading a lot about how Google Hummingbird will ‘kill keyword research‘ and that is laughable at best.

It probably comes from people misunderstanding the importance and roll of keywords with the news that Hummingbird was a move AWAY from ‘Keyword-Driven Search.’

Unfortunately I think that people are confused about what ‘Keyword-Driven Search’ is, so I’ll take a moment to talk about that before digging into how I did my keyword research.

How A Device Affects The Search Query

Search queries change based on the type of devices we use to conduct them. It’s not a good thing or a bad thing – but it is a difference that Google has to adjust for.

Let’s look at two popular examples.

Desktop Search

When you sit down at your desk and open up Google to search for something, you will often use keywords.

cheapbluewidgetsFor instance, if you want to buy a ‘Blue Widget’ you might type ‘BUY BLUE WIDGET’ into the search box. Maybe even ‘CHEAP BLUE WIDGET.’

But you tend to use keywords and not full sentences to conduct the search. The query is typically just 3 or 4 words and then it’s done.

That’s called a ‘Keyword-Driven Query.’ Google had been optimized to serve results based on that criteria in the past because that’s how most searches were conducted.

As time has gone on and smartphones have become more popular, search trends have changed. That required Google to change what type of queries it was able to handle and optimized to serve results for.

‘Conversational’ Search

What do you use your phone for? Play games? Listen to music? Surf the web?

How about having conversations…?

A phone was meant to be used as a means of spoken communication. Because of that, when we are using a phone to conduct searches we will often speak them.

Unless you are a machine, you aren’t going to change the way you talk just to conduct a search. Your speech pattern will likely remain the same as it always has been.

The problem with that for Google is that as a search query becomes longer, the number of results they return will decrease. In addition, the quality of those results degraded as well.

They simply weren’t prepared to serve results for those longtail questions – hence the change to Hummingbird.

A Closer Look

Let’s use the example above.

If you were looking for ‘Blue Widgets’ and using your phone to search, your query might be something along the lines of:

‘Where Can I Buy Blue Widgets?’ or ‘Where can I find the best price on Blue Widgets?’

wherecanibuycheapbluewidgets

Do you see the difference between that type of longtail question and the keyword-driven search examples from above?

That’s exactly why Hummingbird was developed and put into place.

So How Does That Affect Keyword Research?

As far as I’m concerned, this change has been  long-time coming.

Over the course of the past 18 months Google has been negatively affecting the ability of marketers to optimize and rank for single keywords.

Penguin damaged the ability for SEO’s to target extremely specific keywords by manipulating anchor text. So that left us using the tools we have available – including the keyword in the title, or subheadings where possible.

Hummingbird is nothing but another evolution in this cycle and again affected how we look at ‘Keywords.’

Now instead of laser targeting one keyword, we have to target the same keyword, but in phrases and questions.

In other words, the longtail search is now the bread and butter of keyword research.

So, with all of that finally covered and put on the table – let’s finally look at keyword research.

Keyword Research Tools

kwtwhatdoidoOnce upon a time, you would put a keyword into Google’s now defunct Keyword Research Tool and hunt down keywords that were 2-5 words long and pound them with links.

NOW – I have found that keyword research done to drive traffic to your site must be a more planned out and organized effort.

That means that tools designed to serve up one short keyword still have their place – but only to serve up seed keywords.

They are no longer the be-all, end-all answer to keyword research.

But not all is lost.

Dig Deep & Help Others While Helping Yourself

To come up with my specific keywords you are going to have to find out what about your keyword people want to know. See what questions they are asking and then turn those questions into document titles and answer them in the content.

If you want to cheat, visit answers.yahoo.comanswers.com – and popular forums to see what people are asking about. This is where the site: operator comes in handy.

For example, one such search you might use to dig up good questions might be:

site:answers.com intitle:”blue widgets”

Find out what people want to know, and then write your content around those questions.

 How To Construct Your Content For Hummingbird

When I was writing my content for the site shown in the chart above, I used a very basic formula – the exact same one I’m about to show you.

This is so incredibly simple that I didn’t really feel the need to include it in my original post on Hummingbird and you will see exactly why I say that.

hummingbirdcontent

A simple layout that was used with success in hummingbird

SEE?

It really is just that simple.

Factors I Used That May Have Nothing To Do With Google’s Hummingbird

When constructing my content, I did some basic things that are just common sense. I can’t say whether or not hummingbird considers them, but they were a part of my game plan so I’ll include them.

Images

I tried to use between 3 and 5 images per post. They were meant to be directly related to the topic and further explain certain points of my answers and explanations.

Videos

Again, I would include youtube videos where they made sense. If they helped explain or answer the primary question I would make the video and include it into the post.

Linking

Would you trust a research document that didn’t cite it’s sources?

That’s the stance I took with Google. I wanted them to trust my material and therefore linked out to the best sources possible when explaining my answers.

Of course – I was also linking out to my affiliate offers using Cloaked Links.

Formatting

I avoided big chunks of content where possible and instead opted for small, easily digestible sentences and paragraphs.

My rule of thumb was 2-to-1. Two short sentences for every one long sentence. Sometimes one long sentence would then be followed by a paragraph break.

I feel that it helps avoid reader fatigue & frustration.

Production Schedule

I would normally write 3 articles per day and spent about 2 weeks doing that.

My goal was just to give myself something to test with and therefore I didn’t blow it out into a complete mini-authority site, although I could at any time I wanted to now.

Content Length

The average document was 1300 words long, with some reaching up to 3800 words.

I didn’t aim to produce large documents, but rather it was a side effect of writing the best answers possible.

As with everything above, I have nothing to indicate document size having a relationship to favorable ranking other than the fact the long documents ranked in this example.

SEO For Google Hummingbird Wrap-Up

Hopefully this provides you with all of the essential information you need to understand how I built my site and what factors I considered while doing so.

SEO is simple. You just have to feed the beast.

Think for yourself a little bit and use this only as an example.

You’ve got to think for yourself and think about what is best for your readers. The more you focus on them, the less you have to worry about Google as long as you are giving them what they want at the same time.

Good Luck & Take Care,

GOY

How To Use A Web 2.0 Blog Network

If you are a member of SEOSUnite than you have undoubtedly seen the RankWYZ subform.

While I’ve already covered some potential ways to use RankWYZ, I’m actually going to talk a bit about how NOT to use it.

My RankWYZ & Blog Network History

rankwyzI’ve been using web 2.0 blog network tools for over 4 years. I’m not talking about first generation ‘posters’ like SENuke – but actual network building tools for better quality web 2.0’s.

At first I used Link Farm Evolution. When I was using it the script supported tumblr and WPMU sites. While WPMU sites were ‘typically’ lower quality, you could find a few decent sites – but trust me when I tell you, they were few and far between.

Tumblr was considered a higher quality social network/blogging platform at the time. Even to this day there are some incredibly authoritative blogs hosted on tumblr.

But eventually I wanted to get to more desirable domains, and that meant that I needed something like Link Wheel Bandit. I enjoyed using ‘LWB’ while I was using it, but that was 1.0 – I have no idea how the newly released v2 works.

But by using domains like wordpress.com – I could build some domains with more authority. Of course, actually generating the content for it was a problem. If I had something like Content Foundry back then, life would have been much easier!

But They All Had Unforgivable Problems

Link Farm Evolution support very few types of sites and wasn’t up to the task of penetrating anti-spam mods/plugins effectively. (Don’t know if that’s still true?)

LWB supported better sites, but only 16-20 of them while I was using it. On top of it, I would have to restart the program every 6-10 hours because it would eventually lock up.

The Best Tool Would:

  1.  Support A Lot Of Sites
  2. Post On Even Well Guarded Sites
  3.  Run Well

In Step The 2nd Generation Web 2.0 Tools

Right now there are really just two tools that run large blog networks effectively in my opinion. Those would be RankWYZ and FCS Networker.

I’ll save a comparison of the two tools for another post, but I use RankWYZ personally despite also having FCS Networker.

Things I Like About RankWYZ

  1. The User Interface
  2. The Excellent Content Generation Abilities
  3. The Various Linking Methods (Especially like the author box…)
  4. The Account Store

accountcreationFor me, it’s easy to use – the workflow just makes sense as a very “Step 1, Step 2, Step 3… ” process. It can get human readable content from social networks and news sites, or generate non-human readable gibberish text if that’s what you desire.

I’m a huge fan of the authorship box because it allows me to ‘Guest Blog’ on these prebuilt domains just the way that I want to. And I hate creating accounts. If you really want to, they have an account creator – but I like to spend more time doing labor intensive and more profitable tasks.

The Mistake Most Newbies Make

With the ‘ease of use’ of the modern blog network managers, it can be tempting to just constantly ‘blast’ your site with dozens of posts a week from the same blogs.

The Hidden Strength Of Web 2.0 Blog Networks

While you could just blast the hell out of your site (and likely get it slapped in weeks), the better option is to create large domains first – then post once or twice on each blog with a single link back to your site.

Of course, don’t forget to use little white hat tricks where possible, such as co-citation. If you are unfamiliar with co-citation it’s pretty easy to understand.

Co-Citation And Analysis

Basically you want to link out to other authority pages in your niche in the same post that you use to link back to your site. Because they are on the same page, that might indicate that they related. And if there are 9 links to trusted domains – your 1 backlink to your site might also be related as ‘trustworthy.’

Of course, it’s all a theory. But I use it because it’s easy to do and seems to have some value.

There are two truths I’ve found with co-citation.

  1. Sites that link out to a lot of authority and niche related pages seem to rank more easily.
  2. Sites that get backlinks from pages that also link out to other authority sites seem to rank more easily.

In both examples I same ‘Seem’ because I can’t completely prove it. It’s not as if I built multiple sites, all of the same keywords. I thought about doing just that but ruled it out.

keywordtitlebabyThe problem with testing that is the fact that we don’t know exactly how Google evaluates content, if at all beyond basic (Yes/No) functions for the basic algorithm ‘bean counter metrics.’

Of course all algorithm functions essentially boil down to (Yes/No) or a specific score, but for the purposes of this discussion I mean simple metrics such as headings, keyword on page, keyword in title, etc.

What I’m getting at is that content could still play a variable and that negates any test until you have specific knowledge of the current content evaluation process.

But Back To The Point…

You will want to use more common SEO advantages where possible and include a link back to your site very infrequently.

Doing so is prudent because of potential penalty signals. This keeps your inbound link velocity below any potential ‘threshold’ that may or may not trigger an algorithmic penalty or manual review for instance.

In addition, your links will be coming from already established blogs with plenty of indexed content.

But The Surprise Bonus Is There For The Taking

You see, not only can you manufacturer these completely natural looking blogs, but you are also able to go one step further and make them thematically related to your sites.

For instance, with RankWYZ you are able to generate human readable content from a set of given keywords. RankWYZ will then go out and fetch social or news content and ‘curate’ it on your site – complete with a link back to the original source.

contentfoundryWhile it is duplicate content and you are feeling fidgety about that – you can throw in completely unique ‘gibberish’ posts. But if even that doesn’t make you happy – well there’s an answer there too!

Content Foundry will be releasing a feature shortly that will produce unique, human readable content from scrapped material.

So if you use articles generated that way you can build a blog network of micro niche sites related to your site with completely unique, human readable content.

After they have 50+ posts indexed by Google, start dripping in your links. And I mean DRIPPING!

Just a few links a day will do you and quite frankly – I would suggest even less.

A Word Of Caution

Make sure this is only part of your link building process. There should be PLENTY of other signals and links mixed in.

If you only have a few sites and you really want to go all out – use BuzzBundle. I was shocked at how effective that tool ended up being – but the secret is the type of content you share.

Consider using posts that are really helpful and link to your money pages from them. That way when the user gets to your page, they find something pleasant and helpful and once you build that trust – link them to your ‘offer.’

But whatever you do make sure that you are using a web 2.0 blog network in a mix with many other types of links.

Do Not Make Yourself An Easy Target

easytargetheadIf you only link to your site using web 2.0’s you will be an easy target no matter how great those blogs are.

You don’t want to make your backlink profile appear ‘uniform.’

But Wait A Minute

Don’t relate or apply that to self hosted blog networks. I’ve seen many sites rank purely from blog network posts – just not web 2.0 blogs networks.

I’m not a big believer in using just blog networks but even I have to acknowledge that they have worked extremely well.

Got All Of That?

If not, here’s a quick wrap up-

  1. Don’t constantly blast your sites from the same blogs.
  2. Use basic advantages where possible. Co-citation for example.
  3. Use web 2.0 blog network links as a part of a greater mix of links.
  4. Drip links to your site as slow and naturally as possible with automation.

Feel free to leave comments or start a thread with questions.

Thanks,

GOY